Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. Brian Tracy
Awkward and uncomfortable, yep. Been there done that. But that no longer stops me.
I have a good relationship with one of the staff at my art store – and she knows me well. We talk about supplies, techniques, books, art frustrations – and she seems to know me better than some of my closest friends, at least artistically! A few months ago I was looking over upcoming classes, and she pointed me toward a portrait class.
I laughed. Portraits? Really? I hadn’t done any figure work since college, and that was…well, decades ago. I occasionally sketch people in my sketchbook, but nothing more serious than that. I looked at the instructor’s website, and….well, I wasn’t sure it was a style I was interested in pursuing. I’ve come to learn I like the transparency of watercolor, and Molly Murrah uses opaque paints. I’ve taken some classes from other teachers with opaque watercolors and been confused by why they bother with watercolor – just get acrylics, right? (I know, I know, I just don’t grasp it myself!)
But…as I pondered taking a portrait class, I remembered this quote from Brian Tracy. And decided to embrace the awkward!
While I ended up once again probably not converted to loving an opaque painting style, I gained so many tips anyway. The teacher worked mostly with the other students since I was kind of in my own little world, painting away (4 paintings in 2 days…I was desperate for this creative break from months of book-writing – and I made the most of it!)….and I just listened to her. I learned not only about her art tips on composition, color, and more – but was exposed to another teacher’s style. I’m finding some watercolor teachers are very direct in what they say to their students, others more diplomatic; in general, I find critiques nerve-wracking as the critique-err, but the more instructors I study under, the better I’ll get at it. (Someday!)
If you ever get the chance to take one of Molly’s classes, do it – she had folks who had NEVER painted a portrait before doing beautiful work, and her opaque style allows for “fixing” things that newbies find challenging at times. Give it a go, even if you are uncomfortable or awkward when trying portraits – I promise you’ll come away with something new.